As you age, it’s natural to notice changes in your vision. One of these changes is often in the form of age-related eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration. Palmer Eye Center is dedicated to the eye health of all our patients, serving the greater Tallahassee area.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration, also commonly called AMD or age-related macular degeneration, is an age-related eye condition. It affects the macula, which is in the center of the retina.
The retina is part of the eye that can sense light and sends messages to the brain, allowing it to see images clearly. If the macula suffers damage, this causes issues with the central vision.
Central vision allows you to see things right in front of you, like the faces of your friends or family or words on a page while you’re reading. Macular degeneration is most common if you’re over 60. However, it can still occur if you’re younger.
Your risk of developing macular degeneration increases if you have certain risk factors like high blood pressure, are a smoker, have a family history of macular degeneration, or are obese.
There are two kinds of macular degeneration: wet and dry.
Types of Macular Degeneration
Dry Macular Degeneration
Dry macular degeneration is the most common kind of macular degeneration. This form of macular degeneration occurs when yellow deposits called drusen build up under the macula.
Drusen slowly builds up over time under the macula. As this happens over time, the drusen can make the macula too thin and drier, eventually leading to vision loss.
Wet Macular Degeneration
The other form of macular degeneration is wet macular degeneration. Of the two kinds, wet macular degeneration is far less common.
Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels begin growing underneath the macula. These abnormal blood vessels are not as strong as typical blood vessels usually produced by the retina. As a result, they will leak fluid or blood. These leaking blood vessels often cause scarring, leading to rapid vision loss.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
If you have an eye condition like macular degeneration, you may not realize it initially. Symptoms may be more difficult to notice during the early stages of macular degeneration. Signs of macular degeneration may include the following:
If you think you may have macular degeneration, let your ophthalmologist at Palmer Eye Center know. Eye exams are one of your best defenses against age-related eye conditions like macular degeneration. The symptoms of macular degeneration are also not exclusive to this eye condition, so it’s essential to find out the cause of your symptoms.
Can I Do Anything to Prevent Macular Degeneration?
Although there is nothing you can do to guarantee you’ll never develop macular degeneration, there are certain things you can do to reduce your chances of developing the condition. These can include the following:
Eat a Healthy Diet Filled with Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables
Eating healthy has advantages that go beyond keeping your figure trim and slim. Consuming enough fruits and vegetables, and fish with omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce your risk of macular degeneration. To see the most benefits, do your best to eat lots of foods high in antioxidants, like leafy greens, berries, and carrots.
Staying active by exercising regularly will help you stay fit while maintaining a healthy weight. Staying a consistent weight can help reduce your risk of high blood pressure and other conditions that can increase your chances of developing macular degeneration.
Stop Smoking if You’re a Smoker
Are you a smoker? Smoking is a significant risk factor for developing macular degeneration. If you smoke, you owe it to yourself to quit. Talk to your primary care physician if you need help quitting.
Protect Your Eyes from the Sun
Wearing sunglasses is a must whenever you’re outdoors. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can take their toll on your eyes, so wearing sunglasses that provide sufficient protection against UVA and UVB rays will help keep your eyes from getting damaged due to the sun.
Too much exposure to the sun can increase the risk of developing macular degeneration. You can also think about wearing wide-brimmed hats while you’re outdoors.
Keep Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Under Control
Another way to reduce your chances of developing macular degeneration is to control your blood pressure and cholesterol. Having high blood pressure and cholesterol are factors that could increase your chances of eventually developing macular degeneration.
Consider medication or healthy lifestyle changes to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels if necessary.
Schedule Regular Eye Exams
Eye exams are an excellent way for your eye doctor to detect macular degeneration, especially in its earliest stages. Macular degeneration is easiest to manage and treat in these stages.
Treating Macular Degeneration
If you’re diagnosed with macular degeneration, there are ways to treat the eye condition. Your ophthalmologist at Palmer Eye Center will refer you to a retina specialist who will help slow the progression of the eye condition and save your remaining vision.
These treatments may include laser therapy, injections, and a vitamin regimen.
Learn more about macular degeneration and other eye conditions by requesting an appointment at Palmer Eye Center in Tallahassee, FL, today!